Sunday, May 15, 2005

Digging Up The Past

I have what’s called a selectographic memory. I can remember many things down to the most infinitesimal detail. But several of the difficult and hurtful events that happened are gone. Just gone. Like all of the hurt and anger was stashed away into a time capsule of sorts that I’m really only just now opening and rifling through. Oddly enough, hurt and anger keep pretty well. They’re as fresh as the day they were packaged. Maybe fresher.

Ordinarily, I hate packing. My anal retentiveness and packratiness conspire to make the night before every trip an ordeal. Outlining every scenario from plane crash to whirlwind romance and elopement, taking every single thing I could conceivably need, it all just makes me neurotic in a way that so few things are able to. Unpacking, on the other hand, is easy. I put the dirty clothes into the laundry bag and swear I’ll wash them before too long. I laugh at how overprepared I was as I return the clean clothes back to their respective drawers and hangers. Then I vow to pack more efficiently next time – a vow akin to the ever-famous "I swear I’ll never drink this much again." This process is much more enjoyable and natural for me: it’s simply putting everything back in its right place.

With this emotional time capsule business, however, just the opposite was true. That particular packing job was so easy I barely knew it was happening. In that case, packing left me footloose and fancy-free. It was the packing that came naturally. Much to the contrary, the unpacking is pure, fresh hell. While it’s still putting everything in its right place, where that is is hard to say exactly. There’s blame that has to be put on the shoulders of the appropriate guilty party, which turns out to be me more times than I would like to admit. There’s forgiveness and understanding that have to be put on top of the blame. There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be put in the trash and reforgotten. And, most things just need to be put in perspective. The problem with all of this is summed up in a quote, which I’ll dig up right now… Okay, here it is. Anne Porter says, "The past is never where you think you left it." Therein lies the problem.

Putting the stuff that comes out of your emotional baggage where it belongs is not nearly as easy as sorting the items from your regular baggage. As I’m doling out damnation and absolution, I often have a hard time remembering who did what to whom and why. It’s funny that so many things are too important to forget but not important enough to remember, all at the same time. So, there are all of these vague memories. Then, there are the vacant memories.

Just to make matters worse, the stuff I can remember clearly gets fuzzy, because now there are all of these motives and back-stories to consider. And, no longer blessed with the sweet myopia and egocentrism of youth, I actually care about why people do things, even when those things hurt me. So, when it’s all said and done, I’m left with all of these very real emotions hinged on memories that are real-esque, of debatable realness, or not real at all.

And that, too, is where I’ll leave you. I wish I could be more prescriptive, but I’m just working this stuff out myself. The only silver lining I’ve found so far is knowing that God is going through it with me and that I’ll come out of the ordeal a healthier, happier person. Just the same, I though that I would offer those of you who have yet to unearth or open your emotional time capsules a little spoiler. And to those of you who are busied with sorting through your capsules I offer the comfort in knowing that you are not alone. It sucks for everybody.


At 7:49 PM, May 16, 2005, Blogger rod said...

why is that without wishing stuff on someone else, we can still be ministered to by knowing we are not alone in our struggles? I guess that is why God meant for us to live in community. And He lives in community with us. Thank you for your openness. I sure can relate.

At 11:50 PM, May 17, 2005, Blogger The Black Sheep said...

Thanks, Rod. I think misery loving company gets a bum rap. I mean, we usually feel crappy enough as we go through stuff, without also having to toss loneliness and isolation into the crap salad. The only way we can know that we're not alone is to share what we're going through. The Bible says that the angels in heaven overcame Satan and his cronies by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. So, I say, if it worked up there, it will work down here.


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